1. Rio Clog 2. Money Maker Dress 3. Lady Luck Sunglasses 4. Lauren Wallet
People say that you always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did. The bitter taste of regret lingers more sourly when you swallow a lost opportunity than when you must chew an unpalatable but edible lump of failure. Looking back on my tender youth, those fleeting but crucial adolescent years, I can proudly say that as far as my wardrobe was concerned, I never permitted fear to influence my sartorial choices. They were, to be sure, about 90% dreadful. But youth is the playground for experimentation, and experiment I did, reaching with gusto across spans of decades and genres, and as much as the retail options for an extremely broke teenager in extremely rural Pennsylvania permitted, I emulated in dress every movie character and music icon that I longed to trade lives with. I was clumsy but passionate in this endeavor, and nothing gave me more of a thrill than assembling ensembles that mimicked the outfits I lusted after in new and vintage music magazines, and no one inspired my thirsty heart more than David Bowie.
The glitter. The glam. The gold. Sigh. It was the 90’s, and it was an age steeped in the dark and dismal crust of grunge, with which I complied with combat boots and army fatigues and flannel. But to this mix I added fishnet and blue lipstick and glitter and a bright peacock pallet of colors, and it was David Bowie that gave me permission to do so. David Bowie, the sexiest man and/or creature alive, who could be a man or woman, folk singer or rock star, gay or straight, long-haired or cropped, opulent or minimal. David Bowie who slithered across a stage to fellate a guitar, David Bowie who donned a Tina Turner fright wig to seduce us as children in The Labyrinth, David Bowie who fell to earth, who came from Mars, who alternately portrayed strange vampires and spacemen and affable English busboys, who straddled music and cinema and lurched gracefully across decades, trading in prairie skirts for platforms for power suits for bondage, trading Iggy for Iman, and even now, in his late sixties, still the handsome and pale English Gentleman, having just this year released his 24th studio album, godDAMN. David Bowie who taught me what fabulous was, David Bowie who taught me how to chameleon.
Let us all look to David Bowie, master of regeneration and rebirth, a veritable phoenix, totem of grace and changeability. Let us look to David Bowie as we recollect those first tender moments of sartorial desire, our eyes just opening to the possibility and wonder of utilizing clothing to become our heroes, everything new and fresh, all stones unturned. Remember the excitement of buying your first bottle of blue or black nail polish, the thrill of secreting clothing your mother would NEVER let you wear into the house, hiding it away, tucking it into your backpack and changing into it in a stall in the school bathroom before you went to the mirror to smear on thick, black streaks of Wet n’ Wild eyeliner, holding the tip over the flame of an illicit lighter to coax it into going on even thicker and blacker, and exiting the restroom feeling like the coolest, most badass superstar ever to attend your stupid, narrow-minded school, dreaming smugly of the day your peers and teachers realize you’re the most famous and coolest person ever.
A gleaming gold platform clog that David Bowie himself would undoubtedly have worn to a party with poor Angie. A sleek, bodycon black and floral dress that Kim Deal would have worn when she sang Last Splash and made legions of poor teenage boys fall hopelessly in love with her. The sunglasses that Debbie Harry would wear to go sauntering around the East Village, her little nose and red pout turned up in overt and silent disdain to the catcalls of “Blondie! Hey, blondie!” The multifunctional wallet-that-also-doubles-as-a-clutch that you get in your absolute favorite color and keep stashed with Lipsmackers, a $2.50 pack of cigarettes you convinced a homeless guy to buy for you, notes from your best friend, notes to your crush that you’re working up the nerve to deliver, and a glossy picture of our lord and savior David Bowie that you clipped from a magazine, his devilishly mismatched eyes gazing fiercely out at you and giving you and everyone else unsolicited permission to go for it, telling you that as long as you try, there is no fail.